This post is part of the Global Mom Relay. Every time you share this blog, $5 will go to women and girls around the world. Scroll to the bottom to find out more.
I have seen the power of mothers around the world, from Angolan women carrying their babies to bustling health posts in Luanda to Indian women soothing their little ones at primary care centres in Mumbai to expectant mothers at a maternity ward in Sarajevo and beyond. I travel as the wife of the United Nations Secretary-General, but I view their struggles and triumphs through the lens of my experiences as a mother and grandmother.
Few people know that my own birthday was recorded four months late. My father waited, like so many others of his generation in our embattled country, until at least 100 days had passed. In those days in Korea, you weren't sure if your baby would survive. This remains true around the world.
If my experiences in Korea have taught me anything, it is that any country, no matter how poor or destroyed by fighting, can rebuild to become a stable and prosperous place. The foundation for advancement is caring for women and children. This demands first and foremost making sure they survive, so that parents do not have to hesitate to register a birth or bury a mother who died giving life.
Routine obstetric care is essential, but Every Woman Every Child is about more than mothers -- it aims to reach all women. This requires attention to their needs throughout the reproductive health cycle. This is a fundamental human right, and a key component of human dignity.
Women and especially mothers have a critical role in raising healthy children. Study after study shows that the more you nourish a girl, send her to school, give her opportunities for work and protect her from violence, the stronger her children will be. This is true in the world's poorest countries -- but it is just as important in wealthy societies. Everywhere, women deserve protection and support.
My husband takes special pride in having appointed more women to leadership positions than ever before in the history of the United Nations. He does this out of a sense of conviction that women leaders can help empower women globally -- and that when you unleash the power of women, they will change the world.
The United Nations is leading a worldwide campaign to advance this cause. Everyone can be part of it, whether you join an organization working for progress or an individual speaking out for what you believe.
An old Korean saying points out that precious stones are just rocks if they are not strung together to form jewellery. I applaud this Global Mom Relay for pulling together the wisdom and insights of people from so many different fields around a common goal, giving greater meaning to our international campaign for women and children.
Each time you share this Global Mom Relay piece on Facebook, Twitter via the sharing icons above, or through clicking on the above graphic, or donate $5 or more, a $5 donation (up to $500,000) will be donated by Johnson & Johnson and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to the Girl Up. $5 pays for school for 5 months of education for a girl in Ethiopia. Girl Up is able to help thousands of girls around the world go to school, see a doctor, stay safe from violence and work toward a brighter future for themselves, their families, and their communities.
Join us by sharing it forward and unlock the potential for women and children around the globe. For more information, visit www.unfoundation.org/globalmomrelay. The United Nations Foundation, Johnson & Johnson, BabyCenter, The Huffington Post, and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation created the Global Mom Relay, a first-of-its-kind virtual relay with a goal of improving the lives of women and children around the globe.